GRAND MARAIS – On November 7, 2020, at 6:03 am, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a vehicle which was involved in an accident on the 600 Road, west of the Sawbill Trail. The incident was reported by a deer hunter. Responding units arrived to find a damaged Ford truck and a deceased male on the roadway. Through investigation, the deceased male was identified as 55-year-old William Jay Evans, from Litchfield, MN.
It was determined that Evans was a passenger in the vehicle and the driver, Rodney Arlen Earnest, 36 from Isabella, MN, had left the scene. Investigative collaboration between the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office led Deputies to a residence in Lake County where the driver was found and arrested. Earnest is being held in the Cook County Jail on charges of Criminal Vehicular Homicide.
This same vehicle was earlier involved in a high-speed pursuit in Lake County overnight. Earnest admitted to consuming alcohol; however, blood alcohol results are not yet available. MN State Patrol, Cook County Search & Rescue, North Shore Health Ambulance, USFS Law Enforcement, MN DNR Enforcement as well as North Coast Towing assisted in the response.
This incident is still under investigation and no further information is available at this time. Official cause of death will be confirmed by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office.